The lovely Alastair Gilmour (meet-and-drink.co.uk) from That Newcastle has been clearing out his files.

I used to do a similar clear-out before the Southworths made their tri-annual pilgramage over to collect CAMRA magazines and hangovers; whatever happened to the Southworths ?

By the turn of century I had a huge collection of local CAMRA pub guides, accumulated by weekly trips to CAMRA HQ when I worked (some would dispute that) down near St Albans. After several failed attempts to get shot of them, they got dumped before we moved Up North*.

At its peak, my collection spanned the UK, from Guernsey to Gwynedd, from to Grimsby to Greater Aberdeen. But the North-East remained a notable gap, bar an on-line guide to the delights of Sunderland pubs not destroyed by an undergraduate BRAPA (what a terrifying thought).

Alastair’s package arrived 2 days later, which just shows that some parts of the Royal Mail are moving quicker than they are here in Sheffield. I owe him a couple of pints of Federation, or whatever BBB they drink up there in the Toon.

Plenty of blog material, so let’s start at the beginning.

1978. Archie Gemmill, Boney M, Blyth Spartans, the first CAMRA Guide to the North East.

All beer was dispensed into pewter tankards to punters who looked like Alan Shoulder.

See the source image

And pub tickers could still turn up on a weekday lunchtime and know they’ll get served.

Note the special allowances for folk in Hexhamshire, their reward for being rich and well-behaved.

Obviously the Guide only contains a fraction of North-Eastern pubs, with most of them resolutely keg, but thanks to small brewers like (checks notes) Bass and Camerons.

I’ll drip-feed you gems for the Guide, and show you what some of the pubs look like 40 odd years on.

Let’s Start in Stockton, home of the Parmo and 17% of the North-Eastern micros, and an unlikely real ale mecca back in ’78.

Oooh, which pub to pick. Tough one.


The Sun Inn. A “popular town centre drinking house just behind the High Street“, then as now. Perhaps with more Carling than Bass drunk, and with more Shearer on TVs on walls, but otherwise has it changed much ?


Thankfully not.

*Obviously I held onto “Crawling Carluke in Cask and Craft ’94“.

44 thoughts on “1978 AND ALL THAT…

  1. I never heard of “several failed attempts to get shot of them” before “they got dumped”.
    And I’m surprised at “Hand-pumps are the most common method of serving real beer” in the North East during the 1980s.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, it certainly adheres to your mantra of, “One beer is enough.” Martin! A bit of a disappointment if your thing is ticking different beers & breweries.

    It may well have been that in the eighties hand-pumps were more common but electric dispense is clearly the choice in Camerons pubs.

    I recall visiting Scotland in the early eighties and being thrilled because one pub promised ‘Air dispense’: some sort of foot-pump operated to achieve the pressure needed to drive the beer out. (was a bit of an anti-climax when I got there)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If I had a time machine, there’s one very important thing I’d be looking to put right, a real service to pub bloggers everywhere. I’d go back to the CAMRA meetings where the survey forms for these old guides were dished out, stand at the back with a big whippy schoolmaster cane, and whilst loudly whipping the nearest table top shout “Write more ‘effin words in the descriptions you bleedin’ ‘orrible lot!”.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Good for him. It’s a shame as these old CAMRA pub guides could be a mine of information for social historians and pub cans, but sadly most are little more than a massively incomplete list of pubs, the beers, and a room count. Different priorities back then I know, beer was the thing, pubs largely taken for granted.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. But if “drizzled balsamic vinegar”, “charming service” and “New World wines by the glass” sold the Good Pub Guide that’s what we should have been aiming for ! .

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think one thing we may agree on is that the Good Beer Guide is produced to direct us to good beer and promote its keeping, not to produce a profit so CAMRA can waste it at a silly national beer festival (possibly).


      3. Yes, that’s about it.
        There was probably less overlap between GBG purchasers and GPG purchasers than some people thought.


      4. I bought the Pub Guide for a few years when Mrs RM and I visited pubs locally for food, but the entries changed less than the GBG entries in Cambridgeshire, which wasn’t often.


      5. I’ve never had the Good Pub Guide but Mrs TSM says that if a pub takes the trouble to do good beer it’ll take the trouble to do good food and who am I to argue with that, especially as Mrs TSM doesn’t define “good food” as having “drizzled balsamic vinegar” and doesn’t drink “New World wines by the glass” or any other alcoholic beverage ?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always wondered what you’d make of it, and the Bass there. Not even in the Beer Guide in Stockton, it’s all (excellent) small pubs, but the town itself is looking grander than it has for many years. Unlike Middlesbrough.


  4. I was living in Greenwich in 1978 – fond memories of pints of Spesh in the Richard I, or “the Tolly” as it was known.

    I might better have cultivated the session habit sooner, with Ordinary, on the other hand.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Those pages from the guide recall some classics and other missed, never to return. The Navigation at North Ormesby stands on its own right next to Middlesbrough FC, never been in though. The Thornaby list is interesting. Recall the Collingwood but didn’t get to many or any of the others. Looking forward to this series!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great, thanks. Completely different era where most of those pubs catered for people who really just wanted to go out for a few pints. Makes you realise how many like that have been lost.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Splendid. I used to work with Alastair at Newcastle Chronicle and Journlal media. Cracking bloke who I don’t see often enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Enjoying your posts as always. I grew up in Bromley in the 60/70s. Not exciting beer in Bromley so we got the 227 bus to the Bulls Head in Chislehurst or the Richard I (still known as the Tolly) in Greenwich for Youngs Special or went on search for Courage Directors around South London.
    Then in 1980 I went to Teesside Poly for a change of scene ! Great fun, but not great beer, Cameron and Vaux.
    Sometimes we would go for a long walk to the Linthorpe for pints of Sam Smiths, or the Princess Alice up towards the train station.

    Yesterday I found a great Fall concert on YouTube that I went to in 1983 at the Madison nightclub in Middlesbrough.

    Madison DJ: “Yeah, straight from their UK tour to appear here at the Madison. (…) That’s the sound there of The Fall. Then DJ plays Soft Cell and ‘Tainted Love’ after which the band come back out.
    MES: “We came back so they’d turn the faggot music off!”

    RIP Mark E Smith 3 years ago, tactful as always !

    Anyway please post more Boro pages from these old beer guides for 1980-1984. I says pages, but there were only a few pubs with decent beer…


    Not Retired Martin

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Loved the Richard I. Bet Teeside Poly gave you entry to livelier pubs though !

      Grief, is it really 3 years ago since MES left us ? I saw the Fall only 4 times, once supporting Talk Talk, always great.

      Middlesbrough. Yes, definitely. Easy blogging.

      Cheers, thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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